This article from the NYT, and several others, is not good news for pro-choice people or supporters of Roe v. Wade, of which I’m one. Click on the screenshot:
The decision to take up the Mississippi abortion restrictions was made by the Supreme Court this morning.
Determined to overturn Roe v. Wade, and, indeed, in some cases to prohibit abortion nearly completely, a number of states passed palpably unconstitutional laws designed to get wend their way to the Supreme Court, hoping that the new conservative court would roll back the federal abortion law. One of those states was Mississippi. As the NYT reports:
The case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, No. 19- 1392, concerns a law enacted by the Republican-dominated Mississippi legislature that banned abortions if “the probable gestational age of the unborn human” was determined to be more than 15 weeks. The statute included narrow exceptions for medical emergencies or “a severe fetal abnormality.”
Lower courts said the law was plainly unconstitutional under Roe, which forbids states from banning abortions before fetal viability — the point at which fetuses can sustain life outside the womb, or around 23 or 24 weeks.
Judge Carlton W. Reeves of Federal District Court in Jackson, Miss., blocked the law in 2018, saying the legal issue was straightforward and questioning the state lawmakers’ motives.
Note that Mississippi has just ONE abortion clinic, but was successful in getting the Mississippi law blocked. As NBC News reports, the judge who blocked the law said that the state: “”chose to pass a law it knew was unconstitutional to enforce a decades-long campaign, fueled by interest groups, to ask the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v Wade.” I suppose there’s no law against passing an unconstitutional law, for that’s how cases get re-adjudicated. But there was nothing mandating readjudication save the composition of the Supreme Court.
That the Supremes decided to take up the appeal by Mississippi is not a good sign, for had they turned it back, the law would have remained blocked. Can you imagine that the new court would uphold Roe v. Wade? I can’t.
In 1973 Roe v. Wade was decided by a 7-2 vote, with White and Rehnquist dissenting. Now, however, conservatives have a 6-3 majority, and I’m feeling a bit queasy. The NYT says that the Supremes will hear arguments in the next term, which begins in October, and render a decision by mid 2022.
Does this mean that when science improves to the point when a fetus can remain viable outside the womb from day 1, with gestation provided in vitro, then abortion will become completely illegal except, perhaps, in cases of incest, rape, or severe deformities incompatible with life? For one thing is for sure: someday science will get to that point.